Arial shot of wind turbine at sea

Spain... the next offshore wind mammoth?

Written by Rafael Menendez
12/10/2021

Wind energy is something everyone is used to. We all have, at some point, been amazed watching hundred of turbines spinning together at the same rate, for example, at La Muela in Zaragoza (NE of Spain), but observing them at sea is something much more unusual. 

According to Wind Europe (the European wind industry association) Spain has the second largest installed capacity in Europe (approx. 27.3 GW), with all but 5 MW onshore. Spain has almost 5,000 km of coastline (double that of Germany), however while there are almost 7.7 GW of offshore installed capacity in Germany, there are only 5 MW in Spain.

The obvious question becomes, why is the amount of offshore wind in Spain so negligible? The answer is quite simple, almost all offshore wind turbines in the world are bottom-fixed - they are anchored to the bottom of the sea. On the other hand, in Spain the sea coast is too steep and the great depths reached close to the coast make bottom-fixed technology unviable.

European floating offshore wind installed capacity is almost none (see figure below) with approx. 112 MW installed (including Kincardine) and in 2 years we expect to have 313.5 MW.

Offshore Floating Capacity Chart AFRY Management Consulting
Source: WIND EUROPE: Offshore Wind in Europe - Key trends and statistics 2020

Floating technology is been around for several years; firstly developed by the oil industry and now coming to the wind industry, promising to make viable floating offshore wind.

So, if in Spain we have a long coastline and technology is coming, what are we missing?

Wind? Not really, Spain has many areas with strong winds (see figure 2 below)

WIND SPEED OFF THE COAST OF SPAIN [m/s, 100 m height]
Wind speed off the coast of Spain [m/s, 100 m height]
Source: MITECO
Note: Only speeds above 7.5 m/s are shown

What is missing is the legal framework but the good news is that it is coming...

Back in 2007 a Royal Decree (RD 1028/2007) was passed to set up the procedure for offshore wind authorization for farms >50 MW. In real terms, this RD was never enforced and actually became obsolete and new regulation is about to be passed. Before this year ends, a new legislation is expected to come and, according to the current draft, 28 areas covering almost 8,000 km2 have been identified as suitable for offshore wind park development. Regarding capacity to be installed, both MITECO (Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic challenge) and AEE (Spanish Wind Association) estimate a range between 1-3 GW to be developed before 2030.

The final good news is that Spain has a remarkable industry ecosystem already active in offshore wind developments that can help and support international investors interested in exploring this new frontier…

Interested in learning more? Please feel free to reach out to us to better understand Spain’s offshore opportunities and how AFRY can help you.

Contact for more information

Rafael Menendez

Senior Principal, AFRY Management Consulting

Antonio de Juan Fernandez

Director, AFRY Management Consulting